Desmos chinensis


Unona desmos, Desmos cochinchinensis, Unona discolor, Unona chinensis. 

Vernacular Names:


Dara Singgah, Kenanga Hutan, Akar pisang-pisang, Jari Ayam

English Dwarf ylang-ylang [2]
Thailand Kurah-kowgkaap
Vietnam Cay Chap Choi, Cay Co Chay
China Cao Tsit Fung

General Information


Desmos chinensis is a shrub of the Annonaceae family. It is a spreading or sarmentose shrub with slender branches which are leafy.  The leaves measures 7 x 2.5-5cm, shining above, glaucous beneath. The base rounded or subcordate; measuring petiole 0.6cm long. The flowers are yellow, odourous with peduncle measuring 2.5-5cm long, bracts submedian, oblong or lanceolate, deciduous. The petals measures 5cm long, silky pubescent or glabrate. The ovules 5-6. The carpels are stalked, with joints 1-6 fleshy.

Plant Part Used

Roots. [1] [2]

Chemical Constituents

4,7-dihydroxy-5-methoxy-6-methyl-8-formyl-flavane; 5,7-dihydroxy-6,8-dimethyl-dihydroflavone (demethoxymatteucinol); lawinal; desmosal; desmethoxymatteucinol; unonal; isounonal; desmosflavone; allantoic acid; succinic acid; daucosterol; beta-sitosterol; stearic acid; 2-methoxybenzyl benzoate; negletein; 2',3'-dihydroxy-4',6'-dimethoxydihydrochalcone; 5,6-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-dihydroflavone;  astilbin; quercitrin; 2',4'-dihydroxy-3'-(2,6-dihydroxybenzyl)-6'-methoxychalcone, desmosinol, desmal.

Traditional Used:

The roots of D. chinensis Lour is the main part of the plant that is being used in the east for treatment of various conditions. The Malays and the Indian use the decoction of the roots to treat fever while the Chinese specifically use it to treat Malaria. [1] Further, the same decoction is made used of by the Malays to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, vertigo and in post partum pot herbs. [2]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

The leaves of D. chinensis Lour has been shown to exhibit antimicrobial activities. This is prominent with crude chloroform extract which showed activity against Straphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Bacillus subtilis with MIC values ranging from 500-1000microg/ml; also against dermatophytes Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton menatgrophytes and Microsporum gypseum with MIC ranging from 31.25-62.50microgm/ml. [3]

Cytotoxic activity

Desmal isolated from D. chinensis, showed strong inhibitory activity against thyrosine kinase enzymes. Desmal competed with peptide substrate and non-competed with ATP. It inhibited tyrosine kinase in situ in epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor-overexpressing NIH3T3 (ER12) cells. It also inhibited EGF-induced inositol phosphate formation and morphological changes. [4]

NFAT Transcription inhibitory activity

Six phenolic compounds were isolated from the methanol extract of dried leaves of D. chinensis. Of the six compounds, negletein and 2',3'-dihydroxy-4',6'-dimethoxydihydrochalcone were found to have potent inhibitory activity activity against nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) transcription factor.[5]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

D. chinensis should be used with great caution in pregnancy since its function in the post-partum pot herb is to induce further contraction of the uterus as is generally the case with other Annonaceae.

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



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Case Reports

No documentation

Read More

  1)  Botanical Info


  1. Zhao, J. Chemical constituents in the roots of Desmos chinensis. Acta Botanica Yunnanica (
  2. Christophe Wiart Medicinal plants of Southeast Asia Pelanduk Publications 2000 pg. 199
  3. Kummee Sopa, Intaraksa Niwan Antimicrobial activity of Desmos chinensis leaf and Maclura cochinchinensis wood extracts Songklanakarin Journal of Science and Technology. 01/01/2008
  4. Kakeya H, Imoto M, Tabata Y, Iwami J, Matsumoto H, Nakamura K, Koyano T, Tadano K, Umezawa K.Isolation of a novel substrate-competitive tyrosine kinase inhibitor, desmal, from the plant Desmos chinensis. FEBS Lett. 1993 Apr 5;320(2):169-72.
  5. Kiem PV, Minh CV, Huong HT, Lee JJ, Lee IS, Kim YH. Phenolic constituents with inhibitory activity against NFAT transcription from Desmos chinensis. Arch Pharm Res. 2005 Dec;28(12):1345-9.